The road to a simple DIY Pedal, pt 1

I’ve always been fascinated by DIY electronics, and I always wished I knew more about how to solder and build your own musical effects.

After reducing my music gear to the very basic minimum I found myself wanting to experiment with some interesting sounds for my guitar, and what better chance to roll your own?

Finding veroboard pedal layouts online was easy, so I picked out a simple distortion circuit as a starting point.

Below is the schematic I made from the board:

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This is actually my first schematic ever so bear with me :).

Based on this schematic I breadboarded the design:

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This is working. Sort of. The signal comes through and sounds somewhat distorted, but the difference compared to the clean signal is very small.

Next step will be to figure out if I need a different capacitor configuration or a different transistor in order to drive more distortion…

If you have any thoughts please share them :).

Fiddling with deadly currents

A while back my good friend Niklas from NOR and Norator visited me here in Stockholm for an epic synth weekend (featuring amongst others Kraftwerk and Cold Cave…) and helped me modify my Doepfer LC9 boxes from north american voltage (110v) to the swedish (230v).

Its a relatively simple modification if you’re handy with the soldering iron and know the basics of electrical engineering, but since I wouldn’t put either on my resume Nicklas volunteered to perform the procedure.

Below are some shots from the operation.

Start by loosening the screws in the back…

photo 3

That hold the cover for the actual PSU (the one that say you will DIE if you tamper with it…)

photo 2 Next break the two soldering bridges that north american units ship with, and create two new ones to match the spec of the european units…
photo 4

And that’s it! My LC9 boxes are now fully compatible with the swedish electrical standard :). Many thanks to Niklas for taking the time!

You can find a document that explains the necessary steps near the bottom of the following page on Doepfer’s website: http://www.doepfer.de/faq/a100_faq.htm#Modification%20mains%20voltage

Custom Studio Furniture (Free Sketchup Plan)

Since I moved back to Sweden It’s taken quite a while to get all the gear back up, but now  it’s finally in place and all plugged in. One of my goals was to improve my desk space to get better access to my rack units.

Buying a ready made studio desk is both expensive and boring so I decided to ‘build’ my own instead. This would also provide the most compact solution.

I started with an Ikea desk called Galant. You can go for either the corner or straight type. I choose the straight (160 x 80 cm) for space saving. On top of this I put two custom built 6U racks made in solid oak to match the surface of the desk.

I left just enough space between them to fit my 27″ iMac, which I suspended from a monitor arm. The idea was to fit a slanting shelf in front of it to hold my Maschine and some other handy gadgets. You may notice that the desk is 5-10cm too short to fit both racks and the mac, but that’s ok. Hopefully I can upgrade to a bigger space at some point, or get a Mac Pro and a 24″ monitor… :P

Check out the results below, and download the Sketchup file if you want to build your own rack.

photo 1_1 photo 2_1 photo 3_1 photo 4_1

Dropbox link to Sketchup file: https://www.dropbox.com/s/din4o7j6icwj88k/6USlantedRack.zip

(Disclaimer: I’m not a carpenter so use the Sketchup drawing at your own risk…)

Echigoya, another synth power-spot in Tokyo

In January this year I presented the FiveG store in Harajuku, Tokyo, but the city is home to many other fantastic gems for synth heads. Today I’ll post some pictures from the Echigoya Music (えちごやミュージック) store in Shibuya.

Along with FiveG, I would list Echigoya as probably one of the best spots in Tokyo to go searching for vintage or just used synthesizers and other studio gear. It’s a small shop but filled floor to ceiling with some really fantastic gear. Prices are reasonable too, and the manager is more than happy to assist with shipping to just about any region of the world.

To get to this store you get off at the Shibuya station and walk towards Harajuku along the JR (Yamanote) line tracks. You’ll bump into Tower Records on your right side.

TowerRecords

Echigoya will be across the street.

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You have to take the elevator up to the 9th floor.

EchigoyaElevator

Inside you’ll find keyboards, synth modules, rack gear, accessories and tons of other gear.

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Look at that, a used Korg Volca Beats makes a surprise appearance. I would have bought it but my mind is set on a Elektron Machinedrum now…

E_VolcaBeats

Lots and lots of gear.

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If I had the means I would have picked up a SEM or two…

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Lot’s of MPC goodness. With some custom skins too…

E_MPCs

On a side note, when I was walking back to Harajuku I spotted this charming sign near the Yoyogi park:

Sign

It basically says that all unauthorized live music performances using amps are forbidden in the park. The background is most likely that this has traditionally been one of the most popular spots for amateur bands and performers to do impromptu shows. Thus, today the area was entirely devoid of any music and mostly desolated. Sad to see such a nice ‘tradition’ go, but I’m sure they will find other spots across the city.

Check out the Echigoya Music website here!

Elektron Side Cheeks / Panels Part 4

Today I had my third meeting at the studio building my Elektron side panels! I got a call in the afternoon that the actual designs / plans were ready for inspection so S and I drove down right away to check them out.

DSC01186Using the actual Analog Four to verify the angles, spacings and other details we went over the designs and sketches. I made one alteration, adding angles to the front cut-outs, which the carpenter seemed very happy with. Other than that his plans matched exactly what I had in mind.

Next the actual ‘production’ will start and in about 2-3 weeks I should be able to show you the actual results. Needless to say I’m really excited about this project and I can’t wait to see what the final panels will looks like.

More updates to follow.